The curse of the modern abode is remote controls. Stuff’s straw poll research puts the average number of zappers in the modern household at 15, which just so happens to be the number of different appliances Logitech’s Harmony remotes can control.
Harmony’s big draw over the obvious alternatives is internet programming. There’s a growing database stretching to 150,000-odd devices that have all had their IR codes deciphered, so making the remote work with your home system is a case of telling the software what kit you have, with your PC or Mac downloading the codes to the handset via USB.
Then, theoretically, you should be able to use all of the electronic gizmos around your home and discard your other remotes. Easy. If the codes aren’t in the system, you can upload them yourself, and everyone who has the same device as you will benefit from your kindness.
Other nifty functionalities include one-touch Activity macros, Smart State Technology (SST) and Help. The Activity macros allow one button press to set your whole system going (say, Home Cinema could close your electric curtains, lower your electric screen, power on your amp, DVD and projector and set it all to play).
SST, meanwhile, ‘remembers’ the on/off/play/stop etc. status of your stuff so that macros don’t turn your system off when you actually want it on. Help guides you through various tips, asking questions and sending commands depending on your answers to get your system working again. It doesn’t even scoff at you if you’ve accidentally unplugged everything.
The new models in the Harmony canon are the 555 (pictured bottom) and 785 (top). In the past, bigger has meant better and more expensive for Harmony, and the newbies – which both feature oblong bodies, as opposed to the curves of their predecessors – are no exception.
Let’s get specific. The 555 is a monochrome-displayed handset that needs AAs for power, while the colour-screened 785 enjoys a rechargeable battery and docking cradle. It also allows you to add graphics to its display, so buttons can relate to channel icons. If you can be bothered to find them and add them, that is.
Logitech Harmony 555 and 785
Price: £80, £180
On sale: August